MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — The Kenyon College and Illinois Institute of Technology baseball teams combined for 51 hits across 16 innings in a back-and-forth doubleheader. Unfortunately for Kenyon, the Owls saw leads disappear in both games as the Scarlet Hawks swept the twin bill.
Illinois Tech improved to 7-6 after winning 12-10 in game one and 8-4 in a seven-inning second game. The doubleheader, which was scheduled to be Kenyon’s home opener, had to be moved to nearby Mount Vernon Nazarene University at the last minute due to high winds that damaged McCloskey Field. Playing as the home team on MVNU’s Cougar Field, Kenyon fell to 9-5 on the season in the team’s first games in nine days.
Kenyon got off to a great start in game one, scoring two runs in the first two innings to quickly go ahead 4-0. Malcolm Gaynor and Tripper Capps picked up RBI singles in the first frame before a second inning in which Nate Rosen hit an RBI single and Edwin Groff worked an RBI walk.
Theo Canning was cruising on the mound with four strikeouts through 2.1 innings, but a solo home run by Ty Gutsfeld put the Scarlet Hawks on the board in the third. Gaynor answered with a massive two-run round-tripper that bounced off the top of the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, putting the Owls up 6-1.
Gutsfeld tagged Canning again with two outs in the fifth with another solo shot, and Illinois Tech was able to turn the tide from there. The Scarlet Hawks loaded the bases and forced a pitching change before promptly greeting Sam Howell with two-RBI doubles in the first two at-bats, tying the game at 6-6.
Illinois Tech added two runs in the sixth and three in the seventh, including a two-RBI homer, to go up 11-6. Kenyon came to the plate in the ninth with a 12-7 deficit, but four singles and a wild pitch helped the Owls bring the tying run to the plate with two outs. Drew Robinson gave the ball a ride, but Kenyon fell 12-10 as the rally fell short.
Gaynor and Rosen paced Kenyon’s offense in game one with three hits apiece. Gaynor hit 3-4 with three RBIs, two runs, a walk, and a stolen base, while Rosen went 3-5 with two RBIs, two runs, a walk, and a stolen base.
Looking to bounce back, the Owls quickly went ahead 2-0 in the first frame. With two outs, Groff hit an RBI double ahead of an RBI single from Capps as Kenyon gave Lewis Cropper an early lead to pitch with.
Cropper worked two outs in the top of the second, but the Scarlet Hawks nearly flipped the script by loading the bases and smacking a ball deep into the gap left-center. However, Robinson showed off his range and reach as the centerfielder saved three runs with a fantastic running grab to end the threat.
Unfortunately for the Owls, Illinois Tech’s next fly ball in the third left the yard, tying the game at 2-2. Kenyon’s offense picked its pitcher up after Groff got a run back in the bottom of the inning by scoring on a wild pitch, and Ben Zimmerman smacked a solo shot into left field for his first career dinger.
Cropper went 1-2-3 in the fifth as the Owls led 4-2, but the Scarlet Hawks flipped the script in the sixth. The visitors scored five runs on five hits against three Kenyon pitchers, taking a 7-4 lead they would not relinquish. A run in the seventh made it 8-4, and the Owls could not come back in the seven-inning affair.
In game two, Zimmerman hit 3-3 as the first-year notched his first multi-hit game. Capps went 3-4 to bump his totals to 5-8 with two RBIs on the day.
Kenyon has a chance to bounce back as the Owls and Scarlet Hawks are scheduled to get right back at it tomorrow, March 27, for another doubleheader. The twin bill is set to start at 11 a.m. and is currently on track to be played in Gambier, Ohio, on McCloskey Field in what will be Kenyon’s home opener.